Jacob 1:1 - 1:5
Jacob 1:1 For behold, it came to pass that fifty and five years had passed away from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem; wherefore, Nephi gave me, Jacob, a commandment concerning the small plates, upon which these things are engraven.
Jacob, the younger brother of Nephi is given instruction on what to do with the small plates that he has passed down to him. (One wonders why to his brother and not to a son. Maybe his son was made king and Nephi not want him to have to be both king and prophet or maybe the son was not worthy or capable of doing both because of personal righteousness.)
Jacob 1:2 And he gave me, Jacob, a commandment that I should write upon these plates a few of the things which I considered to be most precious; that I should not touch, save it were lightly, concerning the history of this people which are called the people of Nephi.
Jacob is commanded to only record spiritual things such as sermons, religious events, etc that are uplifting to the soul and show the Lord’s dealings with the people. Jacob is not to spend much time on the history in this record.
Jacob 1:3 For he said that the history of his people should be engraven upon his other plates, and that I should preserve these plates and hand them down unto my seed, from generation to generation.
The history is to be only recorded in the other plates Nephi made. However, all the plates are to be handed down from generation to generation and kept updated as events transpire. (It is interesting that the Lord even wants the bad things recorded along with the good. It is out of the records we are judged so that has to be a record kept regardless of how sad it may be to read.)
Jacob 1:4 And if there were preaching which was sacred, or revelation which was great, or prophesying, that I should engraven the heads of them upon these plates, and touch upon them as much as it were possible, for Christ’s sake, and for the sake of our people.
So the these plates, will for the most part, contain only items that will help us to gain a greater understanding of the mission of Jesus and increase our testimony of Him. This is what people need to read and study so they will be motivated to live the gospel. (A knowledge of history will not accomplish that end. Recorded testimony is what is required to motivate people to live worthily seek for a testimony themselves.)
Jacob 1:5 For because of faith and great anxiety, it truly had been made manifest unto us concerning our people, what things should happen unto them.
The above things have been made know unto Jacob and the other ministers of the Nephites because they know their present spiritual condition and what it will be in the future.